The UPL Chemical factory that burnt down and contaminated the air, water and soil in the surrounding areas such as Umhlanga, Cornubia, Durban North and Blackburn informal settlement. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)
The UPL Chemical factory that burnt down and contaminated the air, water and soil in the surrounding areas such as Umhlanga, Cornubia, Durban North and Blackburn informal settlement. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban NGO sets up hotline for environmental pollution complaints

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Aug 20, 2021

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The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) has set up a hotline where residents can report environmental pollution.

SDCEA's Bongani Mthembu said communities affected by pollution can report air, water and land pollution to them via WhatsApp.

"We felt there was a need for better communication, especially following last month's unrest," he said.

Mthembu said when a chemical warehouse was torched in Cornubia people did not know who to call.

The number to call is 031 461 1991 or WhatsApp SDCEA on 069 120 4970.

South African authorities said around 1 600 chemicals were stored at a warehouse of India's UPL Ltd when it was razed during violent looting last week, causing potentially harmful air emissions and a greenish-tinged effluent to seep into a protected lagoon.

First noticed in the early hours of July 13, the fire was only completely doused by 5pm on Thursday, July 22, officials at KwaZulu-Natal's environmental affairs department said, as tons of dead fish were collected in the vicinity of Umhlanga lagoon and beach.

Beaches north of the uMngeni River have been closed following the chemical leak.

This included all recreational fishing, swimming, surfing or harvesting of marine species as they could have been exposed to toxic chemicals and could be harmful to human health.

City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the beaches were still closed as a precautionary measure due to the spill that occurred when a chemical warehouse in Cornubia was torched during the unrest.

Water and sediment samples have been analysed and the results are awaited. The public are asked to be patient and comply with requests from authorities. Any inconvenience is regretted, however the safety of the public is of utmost importance.

IOL

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